Easter Eggs & 6 Degrees of Separation

It has been a busy summer despite the ongoing COVID restrictions, so I have to apologize for neglecting my blog and website. However, this doesn't mean that I haven't been making some interesting discoveries.


Most recently I had the honor of communicating directly with one of my favorite actors, the one and only Allison Janney. Allison's niece works for a terrific animal rescue service called "Amelia Air Rescue" (www.ameliaair.org) which is based in the US. Amelia Air flies animals from high-risk (high kill) shelters and delivers them to organizations that match the animals with their forever families. Allison has been promoting her support for Amelia Air and I recently made my own donation to help them to continue rescuing animals.

To my surprise, Allison herself reached out to me with a message and we corresponded for a bit by text. I was surprised, of course, but I soon found that Allison was easy to communicate with and it helped cement my admiration for this very talented actor; I've enjoyed her portrayal of Bonnie Plunkett on MOM for a long time, as well as her role in the hilarious movie Spy, but I really didn't know much about her. So, me being me, I decided to quickly look at Allison's biography and was surprised to learn that she is so much more than just these 2 characters.

In addition to discovering more about Allison, I also found that her middle name is "Brooks" and that her mother's maiden name was "Putnam" and that she also had the middle name "Brooks". This got my brain going.

Brooks is an unusual middle name and got me wondering whether this was a family surname that had been passed along as often happens, including in my own paternal family where the name "Rae" has often been used. Brooks is a paternal surname of mine. I also immediately recognized Putnam as the surname of the husband of my very famous 9th paternal cousin, Amelia Earhart.

Do you see where this is leading?

When I put these "Easter eggs" together, I had 2 family names (one by marriage to my family) and an organization named, I believe, after Amelia Earhart. These were too big to be mere coincidences, so I did what I always do when I'm on the trail of extended family members, I started researching Allison Janney's family history. I didn't do a very deep dive, but I did find out a few interesting things:

1) The name "Brooks" is indeed a family surname on Allison's maternal side.

2) The surname "Putnam" is a family surname on Allison's maternal side.

3) George Palmer Putnam III, husband of my 9th paternal cousin, Amelia Earhart, is Allison's maternal 1st cousin, 3x removed.


Although Allison Brooks Janney is not a relative of mine, my instincts were at least on point that there was some sort of connection between her and I so I've added her into my family tree until I can finish my research. I have noticed a few other common surnames that Allison and I share, and the fact that her family has roots in New England and Ohio, as I do, may lead to some more connections. Nonetheless, even if there is no closer connection between us than Amelia Earhart & George Putnam, it is still something I consider to be serendipitous considering I never expected to communicate with Ms. Janney in the first place.


So this is just one of the more exciting things that has happened since my last blog update. Whether or not I'll ever communicate with Allison Janney again or not remains unknown, but if I do, I will definitely share this tidbit of our shared common family backgrounds!


Oh, and let's not forget that Allison worked alongside yet another of my very distant cousins, Anna Faris!



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